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Odd Wisconsin Archive

They're a Young Team, After All


We're told that 23 of the Green Bay Packers have less than two years of NFL experience, which helps explain the 14 penalties they committed yesterday in Detroit. They're merely kids who make Brett Favre's football history seem positively antediluvian. But Wisconsin football history dates back at least to 1894, when 156-pound Ikey Karel broke away from a crowded field to give UW a much-coveted victory over rival Minnesota. By then the game was well-established in colleges such as the Platteville Normal School. By the 1930s it was a staple of high school sports programs, and players such as these at Madison East tested their mettle on the gridiron every fall - - some, like this melancholy guy, perhaps only briefly.

The Packers, founded in 1919 by Earl "Curly" Lambeau and George Calhoun, were held together through those lean years largely through the commitment of Lambeau and local fans. Those years are described in the cover story, "Big Bay Blue: When Curly, Johnny Blood, and Green Bay Showed the Way," of the Autumn issue of our Wisconsin Magazine of History which hits the newsstands this week. These game programs from the World War Two era will evoke memories in readers of a certain age, especially their advertisements. Most of you, though, will remember the great teams of the Lombardi years, brought to life again in these digitized yearbooks and other publications.

Of course, the majority of the players on the field yesterday had not even been born when these now-historical documents were created. The seasons, they go round and round, as Joni Mitchell wrote, football seasons as well as other kinds. Yesterday's kids become today's heroes and then tomorrow's commentators.

So if you love sports and are curious about where today's games came from, look on your newsstand next week for the Autumn issue of our Wisconsin Magazine of History. Be sure to visit the sports history page at Turning Points in Wisconsin History, where you'll find pictures, documents, and museum artifacts showing the history in Wisconsin of everything from baseball and basketball to bicycling and curling. Finally, see our Museum collection to view the jersey worn by Brett Favre during the rout of the Bears just after Reggie White's death last season.

If you have questions or comments while looking at these things, just click on the "Email Us" link at the bottom of every page. We can usually reply the same day.
:: Posted in Odd Lives on September 11, 2005

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